Stephen Hillenburg Dead: ’SpongeBob SquarePants’ Creator Dies at 57 After ALS Battle

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Stephen Hillenburg poses withSpongeBob SquarePants at an event held at Tokyo International Anime Fair on March 23, 2006 in Tokyo, Japan. Junko Kimura/Getty Images


Stephen Hillenburg, best known for creating Nickelodeon’s SpongeBob SquarePants, died on Monday, November 26. He was 57.

Nickelodeon revealed Hillenburg’s cause of death was ALS, which he previously announced he had been diagnosed with in March 2017.

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Stephen Hillenburg attends the World Premiere of “The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out Of Water 3D” at the AMC Lincoln Square on January 31, 2015 in New York City. Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Paramount International

“We are incredibly saddened by the news that Steve Hillenburg has passed away following a battle with ALS,” the network said in a statement to Variety on Tuesday, November 27. “He was a beloved friend and long-time creative partner to everyone at Nickelodeon, and our hearts go out to his entire family. Steve imbued SpongeBob SquarePants with a unique sense of humor and innocence that has brought joy to generations of kids and families everywhere.”

The statement concluded: “His utterly original characters and the world of Bikini Bottom will long stand as a reminder of the value of optimism, friendship and the limitless power of imagination.”

The network also announced the news of Hillenburg’s death on Tuesday via Twitter.

”We are sad to share the news of the passing of Stephen Hillenburg, the creator of SpongeBob SquarePants,” Nickelodeon’s official Twitter account wrote. “Today, we are observing a moment of silence to honor his life and work.”

SpongeBob SquarePants premiered on Nickelodeon in May 1999 and has since aired nearly 250 episodes. Hillenburg also wrote and produced the series’ feature films, 2004’s The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie and 2015’s The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water. 

Hillenburg is survived by his wife, Karen, their son, Clay, his mother, Nancy, and his brother, Brian.

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